Head or tail, is Nigeria doomed?

Since Nigeria attained independence 58 years ago, the nation has been running from pillar to post, in varied attempts to take the country out of the woods, push it to an appreciable level of development befitting a country with its plethora of human and material resources. From parliamentary system to unitary (military) and to the presidential system of government, none has holistically addressed the economic and political problems that ail the society. Therefore, there is a consensus of opinions that Nigeria is not where it should be and hopes are fading about the probability of ever moving past a certain level of development. At individual level, a 58-year old person is already inching toward old age and cannot be excused for lack of wisdom.

Sadly, for Nigeria at 58, the indices do not look good. Take education as an example. Our political elite are all products of the public-school system that brought them to limelight.  Today, they do not send their children to such schools because they are worthless. Not even the average middle class takes their children to the public school. Certainly, if the schools were these bad, plus our poor and humble background, many of these parents/leaders would not have seen the four walls of the university. The rot is not exclusive to the education sector alone; it is prevalent in all other facets including health, social service and infrastructure, although there is no gain saying the fact that some progress has been made. However, in comparison with the revenues that have accrued to the country since oil became our main export, there is no commensurate development of the state. How did we become the poverty capital of the world? Why is it that when we had no oil revenues, there was less poverty and we could feed ourselves?  Suddenly, hope is vanishing; our youths are moving in droves to the US, Canada, the Middle East, Britain not just to find greener pastures, but because they can’t find their purpose here. There are no opportunities for them because their parents are not powerful. They are leaving because the life they envisioned for themselves is crashing before their very eyes.

The tragedy of this reality, is that the political class does not inspire hopes of utopia in the nearest future. This is even more so as this year’s anniversary celebration coincides with the most politically intense period of the nation’s history. With the unfolding events in the match toward 2019, where the electorate is not at liberty to freely exercise his franchise, and the process highly monetized, the signs are really ominous. The godfathers decide what should be and choose the pliant ones who can easily be compromised, dispensed with or cowed.  The roforofo fight over who becomes governors, senators, reps and even the president has never been this messy. Everything is in such a state of flux that no soothsayers can tell where the pendulum will swing. The two leading political parties—PDP and APC—have so fowled the air with their intrigues and coat-throat struggles for power that you would wonder if there is an ongoing war. Indeed, it is war for them; war of survival and war to determine who corners/controls our resources in the next dispensation.

The ongoing primaries of the two leading political parties—the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) do no give much hope on the maturity of our democratic process. If anything, it is akin to a charade, a mimicry and testament to the fact that our own form of democracy is a government of a few clique that appropriates power and determines who gets what.  What is happening in Lagos state is a microscopic reflection of deep national malaise. One single powerbroker, in the person of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu in cahoots with the Lagos elite is now in the eye of the storm. Tinubu has been the single deciding factor in elections in the state since 1999. After serving his eight years, the godfather chose Babatunde Fashola to succeed him and Akinwunmi Ambode to succeed Fashola. However, the two have since fallen out with each other.

Whereas other APC state governors are practically being affirmed and cleared for their second term, Ambode is in a struggle of his life to get his party’s ticket because Tinubu has decreed otherwise. Tinubu might have been slighted by the governor for reasons that might not be connected to good governance, but by the personal caprices of the godfather and his co-travelers. The words out there is that for the first time, Tinubu’s company was not in the picture about some billions of naira contracts awarded by the Ambode administration. No governor seeking to go for another term has been humiliated like Ambode, who is now like fish out of water, just because one man out of over almost 20 million Lagosians withdrew his support. How is democracy a government of the people when one man decides who becomes the governor of Nigeria’s most populous and popular state and the country’s commercial nerve centre?

Closely related to the humiliation of Ambode, is the travails of the governor of Adamawa state, Jubrilla Bindow. His problem began a few weeks back when the first lady, Aisha Buhari’s brother, Dr Mahmood Halilu Ahmed Modi, obtained the APC nomination form to challenge the sitting governor. Bindow, a man whose loyalty to President Buhari and the APC has never been in doubt is suddenly found wanting. According to the latest narrative, the governor is not qualified to run for office because of a forged WAEC certificate. A faceless group named, Global Integrity Crusade Network has asked the court to compel WAEC to produce Bindow’s certificate as the group claimed the governor did not complete his secondary education at Government Secondary School, Mangu. This is what happens when you play politics with ethics, morality and nepotism. The same Bindow went through APC screening and emerged as governor in 2015; now he can be dispensed with to make way for the first family’s relation.

The opposition PDP is not left out of the charade. I have never seen an opposition party this disorganized. It is as if the party has no leadership that can call members to order. The PDP watched Osun slip out of their hands and their primaries could not even immune them from another possible implosion. In a state like Borno, which the party has never won since 1999, there were two parallel congresses. What a united PDP could not do in 19 years, certainly cannot be achieved by a factionalised group in 2019. Kwara state PDP is a huge embarrassment for the party hierarchy and the strongman of the state. Embattled Senate President Bukola who is at loggerheads with the Presidency and some of his colleagues at the National Assembly proved once again that a leopard can never change its spots. Just like Tinubu, Saraki has appropriated Kwara to himself, to determine, choose and pick who should govern the state and represent their people.

The crude competition for power at all levels in the next dispensation without consideration for performance, good governance, competence and capacity from top to bottom is an ill-wind that can at best blow us to pieces. Poverty eradication, fighting corruption, insecurity and engendering development are no longer sellable campaign issues. An aspirant or candidate is damned if he fails to meet the biddings of his masters, but the nation remains doomed if we continue to play politics of self- aggrandizement and personal interest.

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